Study Guide

The Canterbury Tales: the Man of Law's Tale Lines 659-707

By Chaucer, Geoffrey

Lines 659-707

Lines 659-679

  • Saved by the bell. Oops, we mean King. See, King Alla has so much compassion for our girl Custance that he weeps. Something has to be done.
  • "Now fetch a book, quickly," he says, "And if this knight will swear that he has slain this woman, we will give a judgment."
  • A Breton book of the Gospels is fetched, and on the book the knight swears that Custance is guilty.
  • When he does this, a hand smites him on his neck so that he falls down, and both his eyes burst out of his face, in sight of everyone, Indiana Jones-style.
  • A voice is heard by everyone assembled, and says, "You have slandered an innocent daughter of the holy church in the presence of God. That's what you've done. I rest my case."
  • The crowd is amazed at this marvel, and afraid of vengeance, except Custance alone. She's down for whatever's coming because she and God are tight.

Lines 680-693

  • The people who suspected innocent Custance of wrongdoing are very fearful and repentant.
  • Because of this miracle, and through the mediation of Custance, the king and many others are converted, and the treacherous knight is executed for his lie, by Alla's judgment.
  • And yet Custance is sad about his death. Because she's that compassionate.
  • After this, Jesus causes Alla to marry the bright, shiny Custance, and thus makes Custance a queen. Bonus.

Lines 694-707

  • Guys, this wouldn't be Custance's story if someone weren't pissed that she's happy—for once. This time it's Donegild, the tyrannical mother of the king.
  • She feels like her heart breaks in two; she wishes her son had not taken such a strange creature for his wife.
  • But Donegild will have to shut up for now, because there's a wedding on. They all eat, drink, dance, sing, and play, and Custance nabs herself a man. A king no less.